Monday, January 11, 2010

more on petey

lost in thought

lick  lick

snoozing petey

mr. petey has lived with us for 6 months now. although we were fully aware of his biting when we decided to foster him, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. mostly because duke, despite his on-leash aggression, has never even come close to biting us, we didn't have a fear of dog bites. duke is a dog that can be handled and touched in anyway - we can carry him around like a baby, he lets us begrudgingly clean his ears and we wipe his paws down after every walk. petey is very particular about how he is touched.

i am happy to report, however, that we are going onto 3 months now of no biting incidents! petey now lets us clean his paws (although not to the degree that i find clean) with tail wags. the tailwags show that he now has what behaviorists call a "conditioned emotional response" to being touched and cleaned - which means he's going from being scared of handling to actually looking forward to it.

when we first got him he would snap at us and one time, duke actually had to intervene to prevent petey from biting andre! with lots of praise, he even lets me clean his belly as well. also, another encouraging development is that petey is developing bite inhibition. before, if he'd snap at us, it would break skin every time. now, if we accidentally cross his threshold of handling intensity, he air bites, or mildly grazes our skin - not even leaving a mark. he's learning that humans will respect his wish for space and he doesn't need to use a hammer to squash a fly.

slowly but surely he is learning to trust us and hopefully he will be able to generalize this trust to all humans that come in contact with him. it is so important that we continue to work patiently and respect his limits and not damage the tiny sparkle of trust and safety that's starting to show.

aside from his biting, however, he is the perfect dog! he can happily meet all dogs on the sidewalk (even a giant schnauzer that was 4 times his size), will snuggle right up next to you on the couch and is totally house broken. he gives lots of kisses too.

check out some of the cool things petey has learned to do by being andre's demo dog for his karen pryor academy work:

we've also taught petey to not beg at the dining table. you can read andre's writeup on this here.

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